Would You Date Someone on The Autism Spectrum?


I subscribed to a subreddit called “Ask Gay Bros.” It is a subreddit where gay and bisexual men can discuss the ins and outs of life. (Incase you have not realized, yes, I am gay!) Life with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome) has made it incredibly hard to meet other people. There is no way to summarize how this condition affects my mind in just a few sentences. I took that into account when I decided to submit my first post on “Ask Gay Bros.” The post went as follows.

I was curious about what men would think about the idea of dating someone who experiences similar struggles to me. I was pleasantly surprised when most of them said yes. However, there were a few users who said no. One of them happened to have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

I tend to agree with this user. My mom and dad insisted on enrolling me in social skills groups like Wesley Wonder Kids during my teenage years. However, I look back, and I realize learned some valuable lessons. These lessons came from both the staff and my peers in the program. I have always agreed that age appropriate social skills are essential for success in academic, professional and personal social situations. There are plenty of things about myself that people may find enjoyable. For example, I am intelligent, and I like to share that through my writing. People have said that my writing does resonate with them. However, I also have my fair share of quirks that people may describe as anything from frustrating to annoying.

I learned that valuable lesson at one Wonder Kids group meeting. It was time for each member to share any news from their lives that may have developed in the previous week. I rolled my eyes when it became time for one particular person to speak. Let’s just say that he was someone who could not seem to grasp the meaning behind “enough is enough.” We will call him “Gregory Grossout.”  His superior speaking vocabulary, dirty clothing and body odor quickly became the least of the traits that made me feel socially restricted around him. Here is the gist of his lovely news story. 

Gregory Grossout: I had an ingrown toenail! It was gargantuan! It grew back after I had it removed. I had to go to the pediatrist a second time. It started spewing yellow substance called pus. (Everyone begins to cringe and express disgust for his graphic revelation. He then continues, oblivious to their discomfort.) It hurt so bad! The doctor said it was the most puss and blood he has ever seen!  

(The staff leader finally interupts him by addressing the entire group and correcting his behavior. He is also trying to keep his composure.) 

Staff Leader: Okay, you can stop right there! By a show of hands, how many of you are cringing right now? How many of you did not want to hear about the details of his surgery? (He quickly pauses and turns to Gregory.) 

Staff Leader: Gregory, everyone raised their hand. You could have been much more general about it. “I had a minor surgery last week. It had some complications and I had to go back to get them fixed” would have been far less cringeworthy. 

(He still could not grasp the repulsed expressions of everyone in the room. He continued with an attempt to claim that revealing every single detail was absolutely necessary.) 

I agree that to assume this person is lesser of a human being would be far too hasty and judgmental. Nonetheless, that was my default assumption anytime I encountered such a situation. I did that while simultaneously being oblivious to my tendencies which made people believe I was socially inept. I now know that I must control those tendencies if I want to be successful in the dating world. Admitting that I am on the Autism Spectrum is bound to decrease the already limited gay dating pool. I hate to go all cliche, but, that is how the cookie crumbles. I cannot force someone to be attracted to me. I most certainly cannot force someone to love me. 

I answered “no” to my own question because Asperger’s Syndrome is a very individualized disorder. Grey’s Anatomy failed to realize that when they wrote the portrayal of Dr. Virginia Dixon. I experience difficulty “reading” other people. But, that is the only thing I have in common with most people who have this condition. That does not make me any less aware of the challenges most people with “high functioning” Autistic Spectrum Disorder experience in adulthood. Most importantly, I know that I am more than capable of loving someone. That is all that truly matters! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Do You Define A Perfect Person?


If you read my last post about the book “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime” the main character Christopher John Francis Boone didn’t like it when people referred to him as “special needs”. There was one particular part of the book that I found pretty interesting. During this particular part, he was stepping off of the school bus and he started walking home. As the school bus left his stop, the kids yelled out the bus window as loud as they could “special needs”, “special needs”. He did not respond to them at all. Afterwords, he described how he felt about people giving him names like that. His outlook on life was that everybody in the whole world has a special need. I know people who take medications everyday, that is a special need. In one of my earlier posts I stated that everybody in the world is quirky in their own way.

I simply am trying to state that nobody is perfect. On the Webster online dictionary, the definition I found that pertains to my message on this entry is “corresponding to an ideal standard or concept”. On dating sites such as E-Harmony or Chemistry.com, they say they are going to help you “find the perfect mate”. They take personality surveys that help you determine which person was right for you. I think it is rather insulting when they say “find the perfect mate”. I have listened to people, both teens and adults complain about their husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, or even their friends. There is one person I knew who in their “About Me” description talks about how her boyfriend means the world to her, and how she wouldn’t give him up for anything. In school, however it seems like a totally different story. She stands there and rants about all the arguments she has had with him, and about all the things he does that make her angry. This almost happens on a daily basis. I realize that relationships have their ups and downs, but if she complains about him so much why would she still be dating him?

One of the things I wish therapists would do with their clients is to not focus on the negative things about them all the time. I have been through this far too often. In the introduction to my memoir, I talked about how depressed I get when I read all the clinical reports written Asperger’s Syndrome and how my diagnosis personally affects me. They pretty much read this “Derek lacks social skills, doesn’t have friends and needs psychiatric help”. I wish therapists would come up with ways to help their clients express themselves using their strengths. For example, I write blogs to help people understand my diagnosis, and to help others with Asperger’s Syndrome realize that it doesn’t have to be all bad. A quote from the introduction to my memoir states ” Asperger’s Syndrome does not mean that they are a “loser”, “freak”, “retard”, “sociopath”, or “psychopath”. I know that I am not a perfect person, but I have helped people understand my diagnosis more by my writing skills. I have written over forty blogs so far, and writing it on paper has also made me understand myself more.

I am not trying to sound egotistical, but when people say nasty things about me behind my back I think “they could never write a blog or a memoir even if they tried to”. When I am around my friends or family, I try my best to appreciate the good things in both myself and other people. That can be difficult sometimes. Sometimes I obsessively worry about a person because I am concerned about them. For example, let’s say your best friend started spending more time with one of their new friends. You recently noticed the friend is spending more time with the new person than with you. You hear rumors that this friend got fired from his job at the grocery store for stealing $200.00 from the cash register. This new friend also has been in trouble with the police for use of illegal drugs. If I were to put myself into this situation, it would be very difficult for me to come up with a resolution. I know it is not good to be judgmental about this new friend. If I had a friend who was a drug addict, I would want to try my best to help them with their habit. One thing I would definitely be afraid of is my friend giving into peer pressure regarding the illegal drugs. Once you start getting into those drugs, it is not easy to stop. I would be pretty angry and sad that my friend is spending more time with their new friend than with me, but if I talked to them I would have to be respectful and honest. Many kids with Asperger’s are too honest, which causes them to get into trouble in school and loose any friendships they have. Both of those are equally important when talking to a friend about a situation like this. The best way to start this conversation is to ask them if you are still friends. I would then tell the person they haven’t talked to me in a while and ask them if they had plans for the weekend. What if they talk to me rudely or tell me they don’t want to be friends? I would then move on and find somebody else to be friends with. Sometimes that friend you thought was “perfect”, didn’t turn out to be the person you thought they were. It is really sad when a close friend changes, moves on to other people and they forget about you. It is just one of those things that happen sometimes.

To sum things up, I have realized that no person in the whole world is perfect. People mainly judge my behaviors because they don’t understand my Asperger’s Syndrome. I am not perfect, they are not either. When you are meeting a new person, it is good to see beyond their quirks. It is difficult for me sometimes, but I do try my best when I meet a new person, or around my friends or family. I pretty much answered the title question for myself. You can’t define a perfect person. One person who is good at drawing or painting may not be good at sports, or vice versa. I ask all of you to keep that in mind when you meet a new person. There are still people out there who don’t see beyond my quirks and make judgmental comments about me. I try my best to ignore them. I thank you all for reading this, and I will be back to write again next week!

Should an Aspergers Teen try to be “normal”?


I have said this many times in my other entries, and I’m going to say it again, high school can be a nightmare for many kids with Aspergers Syndrome. Social Isolation, bullying, and inability to deal with change is one of the many things teens with this disorder may face. Their limited interests and inability to socially interact with other people causes this isolation and lowliness. Typically developing girls are mainly into dating and fashion trends, while typically developing boys are into sports and girls. I can identify with that a lot. One of the sad realities in life is dealing with people that won’t accept you because you are not like they are. I don’t want to get into religion to much, but take the people from Westboro Baptist Church for an example. They have been known to protest at fallen soldiers funerals, simply because they are mad about people in our country supporting homosexuality. They hold up picket signs saying things like “God Hates F*gs”, and “Thank God For 9/11”. Simply put, these people protest political hate against people that are not like they are. One of the members of this “church” has about 11 kids, and she is raising them to be ignorant and hateful, just like everybody else in the church is. Religion talk over. Every “normal” teenager I know is into dating, but if you are an Aspergers teen, you most likely will dread having to talk about this.

Due to lack of social skills, and not fitting in with everybody else, Aspergers teens don’t understand the rules of dating. Because I don’t really have that many friends in school, I don’t really have the confidence to ask someone out. The sad truth about making friends is that not everybody in the world is going to be interested in being your friend. In my entry about making friends I mentioned that my opinion about this statement is that it is their problem if they don’t want to be your friend, not yours. I absolutely dread going to family gatherings for many reasons, one is the fact that some of the members in my family expect me to be “just like everybody else”. One of which was this summer when I was on vacation, my grandparents stayed with us. My grandfather and my mother were sitting on the couch, waiting for dinner to be finished. My grandfather asked me that same damn question “Derek, have you found a girlfriend yet”? I simply answered with a flat “no”, and just proceed with what I was doing. A few seconds later, my grandmother made the comment “you are way to good looking to not have a girlfriend”. After that, they had to rub in the fact that all of my cousins, which I don’t talk to very often have dated a few people, and that many people my age do that. I simply just ignored them after that, because that is the topic that I absolutely hate talking about more than anything. A few more seconds past, then I made the comment to my grandfather “you just asked the question that irritates me more than anything”. I could not have come up with a better way to say that, people always say “honesty is the best policy”, right? I simply said nothing else after that, because I wanted to avoid the whole conversation in the first place.

My first reason for why I don’t want to be involved in dating is because of how people act like the person is their number one priority. Imagine your best friend, who you have been friends with for a long time found a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and they spend every waking moment with them. They somehow forget that you exist, and when you try to talk to them, they avoid you. You try to chat with them online, and they sign out as soon as you greet them. Eventually, the only thing that they ever say to you is “hello” when you pass them in the school hallway. Let’s also pretend that this person the most ignorant person to have ever set foot on our planet. They are obsessed with sex, drugs and alcohol, and they have been in detention more times than anyone can count. They make fun of other people, and they only want to associate with people that are like them. I haven’t been through a situation like that before, because I never really had that many friends, but there are many people out there that have been. The next you would ask yourself is “should I tell them my feelings, or should I just move on”? I would personally just move on, but sometimes you should step outside of your comfort zone and express your feelings about it. I would be angry about the situation, and it would be difficult to express my feelings without being mean or threatening to hurt them. Not to go off topic, but that is a social skill to learn when you have a boss that you don’t like, you could end up being fired or even arrested if you do that. Back on topic, what if this person speaks to you rudely? Should you move on or try to express your feelings about it even more? The best thing to do about this is to just move on, it is their problem if they don’t want to be friends with you, not yours. One of the very sad things in life is that people change, sometimes it’s for better and sometimes its for worse.

My second reason for why I probably never will be interested in dating is because I don’t have that many friends in the first place. I have been bullied by girls in the past that have tried to convince me that they liked me, when they really just wanted to find another person to make fun of. During my freshman year in high school, there was a girl that would pick on me non stop. I mentioned in one of my other entries how Cody tried to convince me that he was trying to be my friend, when he really wasn’t. The same thing was true with this girl. I will not mention this person’s name. The situation started by her pretending to “flirt” with me, and I would just ignore her. She would pretend to like me by touching me and saying “Derek, I love you, I want you to be my boyfriend.” I would just push her off of me, and then she would snap at me and say something like “I’m only trying to be your friend, you obviously don’t have any because you are such a loser”. I didn’t do anything about the situation before then because standing up for myself usually didn’t work in situations like that. I then had enough with the situation, than I snapped at her and said “get the fuck out of here”. She was trying to get me angry so that I would get in trouble, not her. She then proceeded with her usual “I’m only trying to be your friend”. The final thing she did to me before I had enough with this whole situation was she touched me in a “place that she shouldn’t have”. The usual “I’m only trying to be your friend” came after that, then she started to spread “certain rumors” about me. The next day my mother talked to the office about the situation, and she got suspended for a week. Both this girl and Cody seemed to know that I don’t understand whether or not someone is trying to be my friend, or in this case, trying to hit on me. I understand that adults act this way towards each other too, and I am going to try my best to stay away from people like that in the future.

I have learned that there are people out there who don’t know what Autism and Aspergers Syndrome are, and that is why people try to convince me into doing things like dating. People don’t understand that I am different from other people my age, and I am not confident or interested enough to participate in “normal teenager” activities. In the future, when people try to talk to me about things like dating, I will just ignore them. When people tell me that I should date because everybody else is doing it, I am not afraid to tell them to shut up, regardless of who is talking to me. I don’t really care about what they will think about me after I say that. A word of advice to any teenager with Aspergers,  don’t listen to people that try to make you become a “normal” person. You are who you are, and you can’t change that. A positive thing about being single is that you are free. It looks like I answered the title question for my self here, Aspergers teens shouldn’t try to be “normal”. To me, there is no such thing as a “normal” person, everybody person on this whole planet has their quirks, and their strengths. Yes, maybe I’ll change my opinion about dating, but I highly doubt that will happen. I like myself the way I am, and I’m not changing that.